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Frustration surfaces as some Olathe residents are forced from home as JoCo. uses eminent domain to make room for parking

OLATHE, Kan. -- Home sweet home will soon be a thing of the past.

People living in one downtown Olathe neighborhood are being forced to move, as Johnson County officials use the right of eminent domain to prepare for its new courthouse. Many residents tell FOX 4 News they feel the county is giving them a bad deal.

Very soon, 14 downtown Olathe homes will be gone, cleared away as Johnson County leaders prepare parking for its brand new county courthouse. Those homes along Poplar and Cherry Streets are a mix of rentals and privately-owned homes. The common thread is that tenants say they don't feel good about leaving.

On Thursday, Brad Reinhardt, Johnson County facilities management director, told FOX 4 News the county is investing over $4 million to buy those homes. Bulldozers are set to roll on October 1st, clearing the way for parking lots for the new courthouse.

"My son has put a lot of work into this house," Deena Logsdon said on Friday.

Logsdon, a California native who has called Olathe her home for 35 years, says leaving her home on Poplar Street makes her sad. She says she's lost sleep while worrying about what's next, as she leaves a house her family has worked hard to clean up a rental property that is much nicer than when they found it.

"Now, I don't know what we're going to do," Logsdon said.

Logdson rents her home, and says she's only paying $750 per month in rent, which is much lower than she'll see at comparable properties.

"I just hope they take into consideration that not everyone has $1,000 to $1,200 for rent. I'm not talking about a castle. I'm talking about a decent home where they'll accept pets," Logsdon lamented.

Bob Brodrick, who owns a family home on Poplar St., told FOX 4 News via email that he doesn't feel the county is offering good value for these homes. Brodrick fears he won't see many deals on the current real estate market.

"If we are being put out for the benefit of the county and Olathe then shouldn't we at least be helped to maintain our current quality of house and life?" Brodrick wrote.

Lily Willey and her family live just across Poplar St. from Logsdon. She says she was aware of the new courthouse plans, but unaware of the eminent domain schedule, and the county's plans to pay residents to relocate.

"It sounds pretty tough. We just moved in. Moving is tough," Willey said.

"I have no idea since we just moved here eight months ago, so we own this house. That's pretty huge to me."

Another homeowner on Poplar, who wouldn't give her name, says the economics of this work against her. She points out the current real estate market favors sellers, not buyers, which will make finding a new home harder.

Construction on the new Johnson County Courthouse will begin in late 2017. The project is expected to wrap-up in four years.